top of page
  • Writer's pictureHelsingin Kamariorkesteri

Immersive event "Inside the orchestra" + Concert: VIVALDI!

Updated: Apr 4

Immersive event and concert at the Finnish House of Nobility on April 9th 2024. Soloists from the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra | James Kahane, conductor. Buy tickets here.



The Helsinki Chamber Orchestra is proud to launch a new event format, the “Immersive Concert” with its first iteration taking place on April 9th 2024 centered around the music of Antonio Vivaldi (but not only!). This format, in addition to the usual focus points of the orchestra's concerts - high quality performance of western classical music -, adds an extra pedagogical and educational spin while simultaneously offering to the audience a one of a kind sensory experience. 


The event is divided in two parts: the "Inside the Orchestra" part, where the audience is offered the unique experience of being seated among the orchestra's musicians or around it, and to have various interactions with them - the conductor, as well as the musicians, will offer various explanations, insights, and trivia around the pieces that will be presented, and it will be the opportunity for the listeners to ask questions directly as well! Following a break, the event will resume with a full uninterrupted performance part with the same seating.


It is possible to attend either part separately, or both of them together! For the entirety of the event, the audience will be seated inside or at the periphery of the orchestra. Seating is free and you can choose on the spot where you would like to seat, whether next to the double-bass for their powerful low sounds, to the soloist for their virtuoso playing, or further away from the orchestra for the unified sound of the group!



Immersive event: "Inside the Orchestra" (18:00-19:30)


The immersive event will highlight one of the most famous works by Antonio Vivaldi, the Four Seasons. Each of the season, a concerto for violin and string orchestra, will be performed and presented by a different member of the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra and will offer a unique opportunity to learn more about the music, the composer, as well as the technical challenges that a soloist has to face to perform these difficult concertos. The orchestra will also present one of Jean Sibelius' most loved composition, his Impromptu, in both versions back to back: the original version for piano solo (Impromptu No. 5 and 6), and the version he later arranged for string orchestra. The similitude and differences of both versions will be highlighted to offer a refreshing insight in the music of Finland's most significant composer!


Program

  • Jean Sibelius: Impromptu for Strings & Impromptu No. 5, 6 for Piano

  • Antonio Vivaldi: "Winter" and "Spring" from the Four Seasons


Concert (20:00-21:30)


The Helsinki Chamber Orchestra will perform the complete program centered around Vivaldi and Finnish music, while using the splendid acoustics of Ritarihuone fully at their advantage; the orchestra will be placed in the same way as in the "Immersive event" part. The concert will also be a unique opportunity to celebrate the talent and virtuosity of the members of the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra: a total of 6 soloists, taken from the ranks of the orchestra, will perform Vivaldi's concertos.


Program

  • Jean Sibelius: Impromptu for Strings

  • Einojuhani Rautavaara: Adagio Celeste

  • Antonio Vivaldi: Concerto for two Cellos

  • Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

 

Jean Sibelius: Impromptu for Strings

Sibelius had a substantial output for solo piano, although being mostly known internationally for his symphonic music. His interest in that genre stemmed back to his early career, as the Six Impromptus from 1893 attest, written around the time of his first popular orchestral works Kullervo (1892) and the Karelia Suite (1893). The 5th and 6th Impromptus, arranged and revised by Sibelius for string orchestra, consists, in its string iteration, of a meditative and sorrowful movement with short outbreaks of light followed by a pastoral and loving passage, before the return of the opening section. The first heme possesses a Nordic stateliness searing the music into the mind's ear after just one listening, as well as an almost tragic character powerfully underlined by the straightforwardness of the theme. As a whole, and despite technically regrouping the music of only 2 out 6 of the movements of the original piano work, the piece is a superb example of expressiveness through the masterful use of the string orchestra. It's apparent simplicity only multiplies the strength of the emotions conveyed to the listener.


See the piano score here: 6 Impromptus Op. 5



Einojuhani Rautavaara: Adagio Celeste

Einojuhani Rautavaara (1928-2016), a major composer in the Finnish landscape, created a vast and diverse body of work that spanned multiple genres and styles while also standing out among the music of his peers for using a tonal/neo-tonal musical language consistently through the years. Among his many compositions, "Adagio Celeste" stands out as being particularly introspective. Composed between 1997 and 2000, "Adagio Celeste" is a work for string orchestra derived from a poem by Lassi Nummi.


While the title suggests an exploration of the celestial or heavenly realm, the music is in reality a sensual and fairly rhythmical progression from a very somber atmosphere to a high-registered climax. Through the piece, the constant litany of slow quarter notes combined with the predominance of step-like motions in the melodies and accompaniment (as opposed to expressive leaps), creates the impression of a very slow and lascivious dance that develops very progressively. The lush harmonies and suspended tonalities over very static bass lines contribute to the otherworldly atmosphere. The celestial impression is enhanced by the choice of orchestration, with the strings often playing in their higher register, creating a sense of weightlessness and expansiveness.



Antonio Vivaldi: Concerto for two Cellos

Antonio Vivaldi's prolific output includes over 500 concertos, and his instrumental works played a crucial role in the development of the concerto genre. The "Concerto for Two Cellos" was likely composed during Vivaldi's tenure at the Ospedale della Pietà, a charitable institution in Venice renowned for its exceptional all-female orchestra. The piece reflects Vivaldi's dedication to exploiting the technical and expressive capabilities of each instrument within the ensemble.


The concerto is structured in three movements, following the typical fast-slow-fast pattern of the Baroque concerto:

The opening movement (allgro) is marked by its lively and spirited character. Both cellos engage in a dialogue, exchanging vibrant musical ideas in a display of virtuosity. The energetic exchanges between the two instruments create a sense of excitement and dynamic interaction.

The second movement (largo), in the key of E-flat major, is a marked contrast to the exuberance of the first. The tempo slows, and a lyrical dialogue unfolds between the two cellos. This movement allows for a more introspective exploration of the instruments' melodic capabilities, revealing a tender and expressive side to the concerto.

The final movement (allegro) returns to the brisk tempo, featuring lively thematic material and rhythmic interplay between the cellos. The movement is characterized by its joyful energy, bringing the concerto to a spirited conclusion.


Vivaldi's "Concerto for Two Cellos" demonstrates his keen understanding of instrumental capabilities. The work exploits the rich, resonant tones of the cello and showcases the instruments' agility and expressive potential. The use of double stops (simultaneous playing of two notes) and rapid passagework exemplifies Vivaldi's innovative approach to writing for the cello, pushing the boundaries of what was conventionally expected in Baroque concertos.


Vivaldi's concertos, including the "Concerto for two Cellos," have retained their popularity for centuries. The brilliance of his melodic invention, the lively rhythmic drive, and the engaging interplay between instruments contribute to the enduring appeal of this concerto. While Vivaldi's works were somewhat overlooked in the years following his death, the Baroque revival of the 20th century restored his rightful place in the canon of classical music.


See the full score here: Concerto for two Cellos and Strings


Antonio Vivaldi: The Four Seasons

Antonio Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons," a set of four violin concertos, stands as one of the most iconic and recognizable works from the Baroque period. Composed around 1720, these concertos are part of a larger collection titled "Il cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione" ("The Contest Between Harmony and Invention"). Each concerto corresponds to a different season—Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter—and captures the moods, atmospheres, and natural elements associated with each time of year, with the tools and techniques so distinctive of Vivaldi, and more broadly speaking of Italian baroque music.


The first concerto, "Spring," is characterized by lively melodies, brisk tempos, and a joyful tunes. The iconic opening movement, marked Allegro, introduces listeners to the burgeoning life of the season with a pastoral touch. The second movement, Largo e pianissimo sempre, captures the gentle warmth of spring with slow and expressive melodies, and is followed by a spirited third movement, Allegro, which concludes the concerto with the energy and vitality of the season it depicts.


See the full score here: "Spring"


"Summer" is a vivid portrayal of the intensity and heat, with its occasional heaviness, associated with the season. The opening movement, marked Allegro non molto, features virtuosic violin passages that emulate the relentless heat of the sun. The slow movement, Adagio, evokes a summer storm with its dramatic and tempestuous character. The concerto concludes with a tempest of its own in the Presto finale, representing the thunder and lightning of a summer storm.


See the full score here: Summer


In "Autumn," Vivaldi captures the bounty and richness of the harvest season. The opening Allegro introduces lively dance-like melodies, reflecting the festivities and celebrations of autumn. The Adagio, with its melancholy and contemplative character, hints at the inevitable passage of time. The concerto concludes with a spirited Allegro, conveying the abundance and joy of the season.


See the full score here: Autumn


The final concerto, "Winter," transports listeners into the stark and unforgiving landscape of the coldest season. The opening Allegro non molto conveys the biting chill of winter through brisk, staccato violin passages. The slow movement, Largo, paints a picture of a cozy fireside scene with its lyrical and expressive melodies. The concerto concludes with a fast and frenetic Allegro, symbolizing the harsh elements and challenges of winter.


See the full score here: Winter


Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" is notable not only for its evocative depictions of the seasons but also for its structural innovation. Each concerto is divided into three movements, with the fast-slow-fast pattern. Additionally, Vivaldi incorporates descriptive sonnets, likely written by the composer himself, to accompany each concerto. These sonnets provide poetic imagery and narrative cues, enriching the listener's experience by guiding them through the seasonal landscapes depicted in the music.


"The Four Seasons" has endured as one of Vivaldi's most popular and frequently performed works. Its widespread appeal lies in its accessibility, evocative power, and the sheer brilliance of Vivaldi's writing for the solo violin. The concertos seamlessly blend technical virtuosity with expressive depth, making them a favorite among audiences and musicians alike.


 

Conductor: James S. Kahane


A refined and passionate conductor, James S. Kahane has been invited to lead many first-class orchestras such as the Finnish Radio Orchestra, the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra, the Lucerne Festival Strings and the Gstaad Festival Orchestra. He is a founding member as well as principal conductor of the Helsinki Chamber Orchestra, a Finnish orchestra born in the fall of 2018 and specializing in repertoire for chamber orchestra. Since this same year he is also conductor of the Finnish Polytechnic Orchestra.


 Previously he was appointed, at the age of 21, as Susanna Mälkki's assistant conducto at the Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra. Among the orchestras he has conducted are the Lahti Symphony Orchestra, the Ostrobothnia Chamber Orchestra, the Tapiola Sinfonietta, the Jyväskylä Sinfonia, the St. Michael's String Orchestra, the Triangle Orchestra, the Orchestre de la Francophonie, the Glasperlenspiel Sinfonietta, the Pori Sinfonietta, the Joensuu City Orchestra, the Järvi Academy Symphony Orchestra, the Lithuanian State Orchestra and the Rehovot Symphony Orchestra.


James studied in Sakari Oramo's renowned conducting class at the Sibelius Academy, where he was accepted at the age of 19. At the same time, James has benefited from the teaching of major conductors such as Paavo Järvi, David Zinman, Peter Eötvös, Matthias Pintscher, Sir Roger Norrington, John Storgårds, Mikko Franck, Leif Segerstam, Johannes Schlaefli, Nicolas Pasquet, Yoav Talmi, Colin Metters, Adrian McDonnell and Jorma Panula.


During the last seasons, James was selected from over three hundred and sixty applicants to participate in Bernard Haitink's conducting masterclass at the Lucerne Music Festival, the prestigious Tanglewood Music Festival, and the 2017 Deutsche Dirigentenpreis (German Grand Prix for Conductors), where he was one of twelve applicants chosen to conduct the WDR Symphony Orchestra as well as the Gürzenich Orchestra in Cologne. Previously, he was the youngest candidate selected for the Menuhin Festival in Gstaad, where he was chosen by Neeme Järvi to conduct one of the official concerts of the festival.


Since 2016, James is also the conductor of the Far(away) Ensemble, a modular and multidisciplinary group with which he recorded Jacopo Aliboni's music for the short films "Du Temps Perdu" and "Le Temps Prend Feu", among which the second one was officially selected for the Sarajevo Film Festival, the Cefalù Film Festival, the Guiar Festival as well as the seventy-second Cannes Film Festival.


The Finnish broadcasting channel YLE dedicated one of three portraits of promising conductors from the Sibelius Academy to him in 2018. The documentary was released in the Finnish movie theaters in Spring 2020.

304 views0 comments

Comments


bottom of page